In my article “Stop Counting Words. Make Your Words Count,” Marc, I try to explain why we must write. Too often, writers say, “I just want to get my thoughts down,” or “I think it’s interesting what happened to me.” The stories of people’s lives can be interesting, or tragic or, at times, sublime. But the craft is in the how. Content will always be critical, but a writer—if they’re trying to be a writer—is to find the words unique to the story, to express in a way that doesn’t leave the reader thinking that it could have come from anyone. Capote was critical of so many of his peers and I guess what he considered his subordinates. When Harper Lee published “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Capote—a close friend—barely had anything to say. He could have written a review, he could have given his support, but he was too wrapped up in his own work. Writing is an act of giving. It can come from a selfish mind, but it still has to give. What I see in a lot of writers today is simply wanting to take: This article will make me famous. Well, invariably it won’t unless readers feel you’re not just giving but giving your all. That requires a hell of a lot of work and guts. You have to strain to be original. You have to let it eat a part of you. There is no fakery if you’re doing it right, if you’re committed, if you’re ready to truly give. Thanks for your comments.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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